In face of such harsh and unforgiving realities, staff and volunteer association leaders must respond in a way that is just as forceful and unyielding. But that response cannot come in the form of tips, tools or techniques for "managing change" or "doing more with less." That is just so much tinkering around the margins. Instead, what we need is a new ideology, a different system of beliefs that challenges us to rediscover the "plausible promise" of our organizations and to act confidently and decisively to make them relevant, renewable and resilient for the 21st Century.
For me, that ideology is what I call "innovation democracy." It is grounded in the fundamental conviction that, at their core, both innovation and associations are about freedom. Associations are about the freedom to collaborate, to serve and to act collectively on behalf of a worthwhile vision of what the world can be. And that is where innovation comes in. Innovation is about the freedom to imagine what is possible, to create it and, in so doing, make an enduring contribution to the world in which you live. In my view, one that is largely contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy of the association world, innovation and associations are intimately, if opaquely, connected."
He goes on to elaborate six principles of democratic innovation:
- Strategy is a coherent portfolio of experiments developed across the association
- Technology supports the social architecture of association innovation
- Association culture remains vibrant by emphasizing variety, transparency and inclusion.
- Curiosity, inquiry and discovery shape the association's intellectual property.
- A high "return on engagement' in the association drives financial investment.
- Association leaders create leaders by distributing responsibility for innovation.
The complete blog is available at http://www.associationinnovation.com/associationinnovation/innovation_democracy/index.html